District 51 board may vote soon on employee co-pays
District 51 School Board members may vote as soon as Feb. 21 on a contract with Community Hospital that would allow District 51 employees and their family members who are insured through the district to go to Grand Valley Primary Care for doctor’s visits.
Whether those visits will include a co-pay has become a hot topic among board members.
School Board member Jeff Leany said at Tuesday’s board meeting he is concerned leaving a co-pay out of the contract will lead to employees overusing the system and going to the doctor for minor medical issues. He suggested a co-pay of 25 to 30 percent of the cost of an office visit may guard against overuse.
District 51 Executive Director of Support Services Melissa Callahan DeVita said the district proposed the clinic to encourage more office visits. DeVita said research into claims unveiled the district could have saved $600,000 last year in shock claims, or claims over $25,000, if employees had seen a doctor sooner.
Board member Harry Butler said Wednesday he worries some lower-paid employees, in particular, will continue to avoid office visits even with a small co-pay. Office visits currently cost people insured by the district $95 to $107.
Board member Leslie Kiesler agreed with Butler, saying having no co-pay would encourage “basic health maintenance.”
“I don’t think they’re going to be abusing it because they don’t have time to run to the doctor for every little splinter. Some of these people are working several jobs,” Kiesler said.
Board member Ann Tisue said she initially was concerned about the clinic proposal and still worries about what would happen if the district has more than 10,700 doctor visits, the break-even point for the clinic. She said Tuesday she’s starting to think that won’t happen, but she is in favor of a co-pay and a pass-through cost for pharmaceuticals.
“It would be the prudent thing to do,” she said.
Board President Greg Mikolai said he is waiting for more information in February to form an opinion about a co-pay. He said he is open to ideas and favors a proposal in the draft contract that would allow the district to end the contract with 30 days notice if visits exceed a cost-effective level.
If a co-pay is selected for office visits, Mikolai said it would have to “not inhibit use of the clinic but prohibit misuse of the clinic.”
The clinic contract already includes some co-pay measures. Urgent Care Center visits or emergency-room visits when Urgent Care is closed would have a $25 co-pay, but a first draft of the contract leaves office visits free of co-pays.